A wildfire at Joint Base Lewis-McChord is sending unhealthy amounts of smoke into Thurston County.
The fire has been burning for several days in difficult territory near Muck Creek on the base, said Odelle Hadley, senior air monitoring specialist for the Olympic Region Clean Air Agency. “The winds are light, so we’re not seeing a lot of dispersal.”
According to JBLM’s Facebook page, the fire started as the result of a training activity and is difficult to fight because of the amount of unexploded ordnance in the area. The fire is on the south side of the JBLM artillery impact area. JBLM Forestry and JBLM Fish and Wildlife Service firefighters are keeping the fire contained. They expect the fire to lessen but continue to smoke for the next few days until temperatures cool.
Forecasts predicted the wind would shift about 5 or 6 p.m. Friday, when smoke will be pushed toward Tacoma, she said. Hadley said the air quality should be back to normal in Thurston County by Saturday morning (Aug. 27).
The unhealthy air quality rating means people should restrict outdoor activities. The official recommendation is:
▪ Everyone should limit time spent outdoors, avoid exercising outdoors (including team sports) and choose nonstrenuous indoor activities.
▪ People with asthma, respiratory infection, diabetes, lung or heart disease, or who have had a stroke should stay indoors. Infants, children, pregnant women and adults over age 65 also should stay indoors.
A ban on recreational fires in unincorporated Thurston County was declared Thursday and runs through 8 a.m. Saturday. All outdoor burning — including campfires, bonfires, fire pits and the use of charcoal briquettes — was prohibited.
Thurston County reported Thursday that it had been experiencing a high number of smoke investigations and respiratory emergency responses.
A burn ban also is prohibiting fires on all forest lands under the Department of Natural Resources fire protection. It now prohibits all outdoor burning on all state lands until Sept. 30.